I’ve been thinking about humor again.
I’m almost always thinking about humor as I’m winding through the first draft of a novel I’m working on, keeping myself awake at night wondering if this scene is funny or is that chapter funny? I got to thinking even more about humor when I read the post, “It’s a Joke, Son” over on the blog FiftyFourandAHalf. In that post, the blogger (Elyse) identifies a whole new class of people out there, the Humor-Challenged. I would call these folks the Hopeless-Stupids, but let’s go with Elyse’s nomenclature, since it’s less likely to get a gang of Hopeless-Stupids over here leaving comments like, “No, you’re stupid.”
Hopeless-Stupids Humor-Challenged are the folks who don’t get the joke, never get the joke, and wander around the internet trying to ruin the joke for everyone else.
Now most of you know my good bloggin’ buddy, Peg-O-Leg. Well, Peg was Freshly Pressed just yesterday! It was a delayed FP’ing for a post she wrote over a month ago, entitled: Facebook Ruined My Life, Now They Must Pay. It’s about how she wants to sue Facebook because somebody put up an embarrassing picture of her from her childhood.
It was a joke, son.
But the thing is, she got comments from strangers criticizing her for suing Facebook. I’m not joking, she got nasty comments about the lawsuit she was clearly making up for a humor blog.
Then I read another post, “Jokes, Gobbledygook, and Cardboard Cut Outs” on This Page Intentionally Left Blank. The blogger (Liam) touched on a number of topics in the post, but the part that interested me was his perspective on writing humor.
Brandon Sanderson believes humor can be cultivated into the tool I mentioned, every time you need it. Many others believe humor is spontaneous, a gift for those lucky enough to have an edge. More and more, I’m finding Sanderson’s opinion correct. He’s not a funny fellow, all by himself and spontaneous. But when you give him the time, he writes killingly funny quips. He’s admitted to purposefully raising his humor level in books, especially Warbreaker. While he isn’t quick on his feet as, say, Howard Tayler, he knows the system of humor and uses it as a tool.
Moral of the story: humor is a tool, not something you’re born with. Practice it, perfect it, and use it.
And then I remembered a comment that had been left on an excerpt of fiction I had posted for a Blogging University Writing 201 workshop.
And to answer your questions Is it funny? Not yet. Try and spark up a conversation with some witty comments, a conflict that will make them laugh out loud or bring back old memories.
The upshot of all of this is I think that there is a segment of the population that believes “humor” is one liners, what I would have called “Yo’ Mama” type jokes before Joan Rivers died last week and I began reading about her career so now I will call them “Joan Rivers” type jokes. In short, it’s insult humor. These same folks are not going to recognize humor that arises out of absurd situations such as suing Facebook over a childhood photo or, let’s say, eating Irish babies as a solution to famine. To them, satire is not what funny is.
Perhaps Liam on This Page Intentionally Left Blank is right in his belief that people can be taught to add humor to their writing. I think I’d only agree that people can be taught to add “zingers” to their writing. And I’m all for adding “zingers.” Here at Do Not Get Sick in the Sink, Please I traffic in lots and lots of self deprecating humor: that is, I insult myself for laughs, so bring on the zingers!
But I don’t know if the Humor-Challenged can be taught to appreciate, let alone write, satire. Satire is not something that they are going to find funny, ever. All humor is very subjective, anyway, which is why Arrested Development got cancelled in 2006 and why Two and a Half Men is still on the air.
And because the robo-bots at WordPress will link to all the wrong posts at the end of this post, let me add the post that should be linked to, “Is This Even Funny?”
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